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ester

Ester was batshit crazy. At night she banged doors and yelled, making impossible requests of the staff. After she calmed down she walked around in laps in the hallway. She took tiny steps dragging her tiny feet so you could always hear her passing by your bedroom, the door left ajar for the person doing rounds to be able to check in throughout the night. Ester was the one who woke me up most consistently. There she goes again, making a row. Racist white guy would complain in the morning and I could hear him across from his room, Spanish bitch, why are they keeping me here etc. Because you're crazy too dude, we’re all mad here. I think Ester was bipolar because one time, it must have been 4 AM, she was doing one of her crazy shenanigans and they were trying to medicate her, and I heard her screaming, ‘NO! NO! NOOOOOO! Lithium no! No the lithium! No the lithium!’ Things I observed: bipolars hate taking lithium. Then she was crying, and not to make a scene. I could tell she was cryin…

on movement

In the beginning, I slept. We rented a hotel room so I could have silence, away from the hospital and away from the construction site by our apartment. I took my meds like I was told to and slept all day. The hotel was shabby, but it faced Central Park and was on the Upper West Side, which is my favorite neighborhood. Our room was on the 11th floor and there was a small balcony, but the door was bolted. I tried really hard to loosen the screw. D. looked concerned as shit.

‘Ok. Hey…you promised.’

I’d promised. With a caveat. If living continued to suck this hard uninterruptedly for the next ten years, we would have to revisit that conversation. I was giving him a decade of more trying.

I got that bolt out with a screwdriver bought at a neighboring hardware store, and sat on that pigeon-crap-covered balcony, and it was great. I left the room about once a day. I didn’t see anyone except for D. when he came back from work. I told my friends that had come to visit me before that I needed …

johanna

Johanna was the first person I met and the only one whose name I won’t change because I like that name a lot. I told her that, I said, I really like that name.

‘Yeah?’

‘Yeah, it’s the name of a character in my favorite musical.’

I sang a little bit of it for her. Softly I mean. I didn’t burst into song like I was on Broadway first thing upon arriving at a psych ward, though that’d hardly be the weirdest thing they’d seen.

And though I'll think of you, I guess
Until the day I die
I think I miss you less and less As everyday goes by
Johanna

‘That was really nice, how you just sang that. You have a nice voice.’

‘Mmm,’ I experienced displeasure at that. I hadn’t tried to sound good, but I guess it came across anyway. Singing is the one thing I’m really good at, and the thing that’s caused me the most pain.

That interaction sounds bizarre. I just meet this woman and out of nowhere I’m serenading her? But Johanna was the one who came up to me and asked point-blank, why are you here? A sta…

mom

It's hard to talk about Mom. She confuses me. Not Dad. Things are very black and white there. He is such a ridiculous man he couldn't have been made up. 'Lacks subtlety' would be the consensus on the character. 'An amalgam of all the worst male cliches'. But Mom, she's not all bad, so it's harder to poke around inside all the hurt she's caused.

Some years ago, Mom and I were visiting Sis in LA. She had transferred a bunch of old VHS tapes of us to DVDs and brought them along so we could watch them together. There was a home recording of me at 7 or 8 looking like Alice in Wonderland in a dress and white stockings. I was singing, in a sweet, full, child soprano voice. The next bit was of me playing the violin, considerably more mediocre...ly (is that a word?). Then I was talking about school in very advanced English for a non-native speaker. You could tell I was LOVING showing off. Smug little shit. No wonder I was bullied.

Next up was Sis, 3 years old…

the neighborhood

Doing laundry. It's a warm Saturday night and the neighborhood has changed again with the weather. There are twice as many people on the street, just hanging out. I can't walk a block without being catcalled two, three times. I have earphones on but that's not enough to block out the sound, and I regret having left the noise canceling headphones upstairs. I like warm weather too, but I hate these people. I can't help it. I was raised to be a snob.

When I was growing up in Brazil I never walked around alone. I never took public transportation. I hardly ever even took cabs. A chauffer drove us to school, then picked us up after school and dropped us off at whatever extra curricular activity was scheduled that day. Sometimes Mom came to get us, in a bulletproof BMW. That was before the divorce. Everything went to shit after that. Dad lost it. It took a while but he eventually cut us off completely. The first job I ever worked was scooping ice cream at a Ben and Jerry'…

the night with the baby

'We've checked your urine and blood samples' the ER psychiatrist was saying in a very soothing voice. She wore some black drapey thing, had her hair cropped very short, and a piercing somewhere on her face, I can't recall where, and I liked her because she looked hip and edgy and dark but her eyes and voice were very kind. I knew immediately where this was heading though, and my head started going 'no! NO!'. The sweet, young-looking social worker next to her waited expectantly. 'And it does show that you are a few weeks pregnant'.

Exhale. 'I mean...that's just not possible.' But of course it was possible. I'd been having sex hadn't I? Therefore it was possible. 'That can't be right. No. No. No-o-o-o!' I sobbed softly while they sat in silence. The psychiatrist said something like I'm sorry to have to tell you this under these circumstances, but we have to make some decisions regarding the course of your medications.

I…

waking up

Things I know: getting up and the 10 to 15 minutes following getting up are very very difficult. Sometimes, if I haven't had enough sleep, and that for me is anything less than 8 hours, the entire day unfolds in a nightmarish haze. But a lot of the time, if I have had enough sleep, it gets easier.

I've lived with this disease for 18 years and I KNOW that to generally be the case. And yet, for those first few minutes when I open my bleary eyes and lie awake in a pool of sweat, with my body aching everywhere and an overwhelming feeling of dread in my brain, I refuse to believe it will get easier. Sometimes I continue to lie in the bed, for 10, 20, 30 minutes, or maybe the whole day, refusing to believe it. What I believe is that the dread is real and will NOT go away, and that this day and every subsequent day of the rest of my life will be horrible. Until I finally drag my ass to the bathroom, wash my face, brush my teeth, scowl at the cat because I hate all that lives right af…